“What Is Tommy Tuberville Doing Here? The college football coach-turned-U.S. Senator objected to Biden’s victory on Jan. 6. He’s not looking back. “I have no regrets,” he says.”


Tommy Tuberville had a decision to make. So did the other Republican senators huddling with him in the storage closet.

It was Jan. 6, right-wing rioters were ransacking the U.S. Capitol, but these lawmakers were already in a secured part of the complex and had been milling about a hearing room with a larger group of senators. They weren’t hiding from the mob. They were hiding from their colleagues.

The group, led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), had planned to object to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential campaign — a gesture of solidarity with President Donald Trump, who had spent months trying to overturn his loss. The siege of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters, however, had some lawmakers thinking that formally objecting to Biden’s victory might be a bad look.

So into the closet they went, for privacy’s sake — around a dozen Republicans, including the Alabama newbie known as “Coach.”

“You’ve got 25 seconds to call a play,” Tuberville said recently, thinking back on the scene. “You can’t call a bunch of timeouts.”

It was the former college football coach’s first full day in the Senate, and already he was being called off the sidelines. Earlier on Jan. 6, Trump had wanted to talk to Tuberville but called Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) by mistake; Lee had handed Tuberville a cellphone in the Senate chamber. Tuberville said he didn’t have time to find out exactly what Trump wanted. Vice President Mike Pence had been whisked to a secure location, and Tuberville and his colleagues had to get moving, too. “I know we’ve got problems,” Tuberville recalled the president saying before the call ended. “Protect yourself.”

Inside the storage closet, a bunker within a bunker, surrounded by stacked furniture, the senators weighed whether the mob’s demonstration of loyalty to Trump that day might affect their own.

“There were twelve of us gathered to talk about what happens now, where do things go from here,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).

The mood was “very heavy,” remembered Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

“I do remember saying we have to pull the country together,” said Lankford, “We are so exceptionally divided that it’s spilling into the building.”

“I didn’t really listen to them,” Tuberville said about the closet colloquy.

He does remember a few details. “One thing that was brought up was that people were hurt,” he recalled in one of several interviews with The Washington Post. Plus, Biden was going to end up president, whether they objected or not. “Do we want to continue this,” Tuberville remembered his colleagues mulling, “if there’s not going to be a result we are looking for anyway?”

Some Republican senators changed their minds after the closet huddle, but Tuberville’s vote was not in question. Coach stuck with the play and formally objected to certifying the electoral college votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Nevermind that neither election administrators nor the Justice Department had found evidence of voter fraud at a meaningful scale. Or the subsequent warnings from democracy experts such as Rick Hasen, co-director of the University of California at Irvine’s Fair Elections and Free Speech Center, who told The Post that Tuberville and his fellow defectors had ratified the violent actions of the insurrectionists, and Ian Bassin, executive director of the nonprofit Protect Democracy, who said that they had made it more likely that the next attempt to overthrow an election will succeed.

And nevermind any consideration Tuberville might have owed to his new colleagues. “I see those 13 enablers, along with the president, as trying to destroy this country,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told The Post in February, a few weeks after the attack.

“I wasn’t voting for me, I was voting for the people of Alabama,” Tuberville recently told The Post. “President Trump has an 80-percent approval there. I told them, ‘I’m going to vote how you want me to vote.’”

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“GOP group’s apparent influence on Virginia redistricting map stirs mistrust on commission”


Trust broke down further on the bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission on Monday after one member revealed the National Republican Redistricting Trust had been working behind the scenes to help a former Virginia congressman submit his own congressional map proposal — one that now closely resembles the map that the commission is debating.

The discovery by Del. Marcus B. Simon (D-Fairfax) sent the meeting into a tailspin as Democratic members feared the GOP grouphad managed to push through what Simon called a “Republican dream map,” while Republicans accused Democrats of bias as well. Simon wanted the map scrapped.

“I’m sure the National Republican Redistricting Trust was just popping champagne when they saw this map go out,” Simon said.

The commission was meeting Monday to debate the proposed congressional map that combined facets of both the Republican and Democratic proposed maps. The commission must meet an Oct. 25 deadline to submit a congressional map to the General Assembly for approval, with the possibility of an extension,or else the redrawing of districts will be left to the state’s Supreme Court. But disagreement about even a starting point puts a swift resolution in doubt, as some Democrats did not want to even tinker with a map partly mirroring one drawn by the NRRT.

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ELB Book Corner: Evans and Gaddie: “The American Courthouse”

I am pleased to welcome to ELB Book Corner Jocelyn Evans and Keith Gaddie, authors of the new book, The U.S. Supreme Court’s Democratic Spaces. Here is the second of four blog posts:

ELB Book Corner

“The basic building block of American governance is the citizen, and the basic unit of American architecture is the citizen’s home.” ~Allan Greenberg, Architecture of Democracy (2006: 32-34).

“ Court + House = Courthouse”

When started exploring the homes of the Supreme Court, with the origin of the term and type “courthouse.” The term is not uniquely American, but its widespread use is distinctively so.

 “Court” is from the Latin coˉrtem, cohors (“yard,” “enclosure), and courts historically referenced various assemblies, but became associated with judicial proceedings. “House” is Germanic and cognates with Old Saxon and Middle Dutch traditions, referring not both individual dwellings and also other enclosed common spaces.   “Courthouse” as a singular English term emerged in the late fifteenth century.

The first Anglo-American civic buildings were meeting-houses imported by Puritans in the early 1600s. These extensions of the home — a communal house — were modeled after domestic architecture. Meeting-houses provided space for both religious and secular gatherings. They stored town records. By the early-18th century, growing religious diversity across the colonies led to meeting-houses being replaced by town-houses. Government business could dominate these spaces set aside from churches to serve secular purposes for the community, including the administration of justice. Markets usually filled the ground level; local governing bodies were on the floor above. Reference to these civic spaces as courthouses became common by the mid-1700s, and the term took hold in the second half of the century.

A pluralism of purpose persisted. Early advertising  suggests that courthouses served as fora and meeting places for community events — announcements, electioneering, speeches, scientific demonstrations, sermons, and mobilization of militia. The courthouse type emerged as government grew and the legal profession differentiated itself from other secular activities. The type persists, transactional spaces below, more solemn court space above, and censoring social behaviors to serve as the mainstay of the community.

The separate courthouse structure emerged coincident to the propagation of court systems, institutionalized with the staking of new states, counties, and governments. Governing Institutions — grand juries, ‘courts ordinary,’  ‘fiscal courts’ managed county affairs, and needed permanent seats. County courthouses and county squares logically followed.

Style also changed. As the U.S. broke from Georgian England, this new, multipurpose courthouse shifted from Georgian, and local vernacular styles to the ‘national style’ of Greek Revival or Classical. Later other Neoclassical, Gothic, and various Revival styles  took over and became associated with courthouses as a type.

The state and federal courts grew in complexity and permanence.  Appellate courts were created. Circuit-riding appellate judges acquired permanent court homes.  At the federal level, courthouses, customshouses, and post offices  were erected to create both homes and physical presence of the Federal authority.

American county courthouses are today spaces of communal and individual memory. People enter into marriage, adopt children, divorce, bring suit against others, pay fines, face trial, and sit on juries in these spaces. Births and deaths are recorded. They are secular temples for the ritual performance of hyper-localized popular governance, keeping democratic government at the center of everyday life. Whether a result of city planning or grand design, they sit as aspirational reminders of civil society, individual rights and responsibilities, and communal values.

 Meeting of the Sons of Liberty at Annapolis Court-House on March 1, 1766

The 1859 Georgian-influenced vernacular White County Courthouse, Cleveland, Georgia (photograph by authors)

The 1902 Classical Revival Colquitt County Courthouse, Moultrie, Georgia  (photograph by authors).
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“The Decision That Could Doom Democrats for a Decade; They predicted that nonpartisan redistricting commissions would make elections more fair, but Republicans might reap the benefits.”

Russell Berman for The Atlantic: To rid the country of partisan gerrymandering, Democrats for years joined with election reformers to take the responsibility for redistricting away from politicians and hand it to independent, nonpartisan commissions. The effort did not… Continue reading